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A Strong, Caring and Inclusive Singapore

MCCY COS 2022 Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law on 10 March 2022

  1. Madam chairperson, this pandemic has affected our daily lives in almost every respect. As Mr Sitoh Yih Pin points out, this crisis of a generation has tested the very core of our resilience, as a society.

  2. MCCY and our stakeholders have felt this very keenly. We are a people-oriented, people-focused, and community-building Ministry.

  3. Community and camaraderie are the bedrock of cohesion. This, however, requires the coming together of people, which is something that we have not been able to do quite so easily.

  4. Arts, culture, heritage, religion and sport, to name a few, are critical pieces in our country’s path towards development and progress. They give us our unique sense of identity, instil pride in us as a people of Singapore, and foster a collectively stronger, more cohesive community. These are the foundational cornerstones of our society.

  5. The pandemic has underscored just how important these pieces are. Hence, when Singaporeans interact less, when our young people stop playing sport with one another, when Singaporeans do not come together to enjoy cultural and community events together, the bonds that bind us will gradually weaken. The long-term effects, if not addressed, may erode our sense of “us” in years to come. And we will suffer a deficit in social trust.

  6. So, in these unprecedentedly difficult times, we will redouble our efforts to replenish and fortify the connections that bring us together. Our arts, heritage and sports sectors are that critical social “glue” that bind us together, instil pride, and give us a warm sense of belonging to our Singapore.

  7. To strengthen the threads of our social fabric, we must deepen the partnership amongst Singaporeans, and with the Government. This is the spirit of Singapore Together,

    a) Where Singaporeans shared their post-COVID aspirations for society during the Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESCs) that were concluded last year.

    b) Mr Mark Chay asked about the progress of the ESCs. We have been working with Singaporeans to turn aspirations into reality. Conversation must therefore become action.

    c) In this vein, 31 Singapore Together Alliances for Action (AfAs), involving over 34,000 individuals from the people, private and public sectors were formed to addresskey themes, for example, the AfA on Lower-Wage Workers, which spearheaded eight ground-up projects to uplift lower-wage workers

    Section 1: Reinforcing our social compact, strengthening communities and supporting those who contribute to making our lives richer

  8. The ESCs and AfAs were convened in spite of COVID-19, because Singaporeans wanted to come together to rebuild our Singapore together. We will do more to harness this spirit, and to work collaboratively with the public. 
  9. Our arts and culture practitioners were put through a difficult period. We navigated it, with financial and targeted support. But we know that ultimately, audiences are the life blood of the arts.
  10. Therefore, the resumption of arts and culture activities in a safe manner has been a priority for us. Over the past year, we have: 

    a) Allowed more activities to resume safely as we continued to simplify and streamline SMMs;

    b) We increased the number of audiences and participants who can enjoy these activities; 

    c) We simplified SMMs for performers and crew, so larger productions can be staged, especially international productions; and 

    d) We provided support to preserve core capabilities and ensure a smooth resumption of activities. 
  11. Whilst the situation remains dynamic, MCCY and our agencies will continue to advocate on behalf of the arts and culture, and the sports sectors, for a safe reopening. 
  12. We also remain committed to supporting our sectors through this recovery.

    a) The Government will introduce the Small Business Recovery Grant (SBRG) and will also extend the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG) to end-2022. 

    b) This will help support small organisations as well as lower to middle-income workers and self-employed persons (SEPs) affected by the COVID restrictions, including those in the arts and culture, and the sports sectors.
  13. Mr Darryl David, Ms Tin Pei Ling and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked about the impact of the $75 million Arts and Culture and Resilience Package (ACRP), which was introduced in April 2020. The ACRP demonstrated the government’s clear commitment towards supporting the arts, culture and heritage sectors since the pandemic started.
  14. This support was critical, safe-guarding jobs and livelihoods, and protecting talent in the sector. a) The ACRP and broad-based support schemes supported over 900 arts and culture organisations. b) Of these, 241 organisations were supported under the ACRP Operating Grant, to sustain operations and make for more nimble adjustments in response to the pandemic.  
  15. We understood how SMMs and venue capacity limits weighed painfully on the sector, with lower revenues arising from reduced audiences or visitor capacities.

    a) To support our arts groups, we introduced the Venue Hire Subsidy (VHS) to defray performance costs. This encouraged the resumption of activities and brought back vibrancy to our arts and cultural scene, with more than 1,700 live performances and other cultural events supported in 2020 and 2021. 

    b) For example, the re:SOUND collective made use of the VHS to hold a concert, Tapestry with Jeremy Monteiro. This was held at the Singapore Conference Hall. Likewise, groups like Pangdemonium and The Singapore Ballet also utilised the VHS. I was present at Tapestry some weeks ago, I was present at the Singapore Ballet some nights ago, and I will be present at Pangdemonium performance this Saturday at the Victoria Theatre and I hope that members will also support the arts in the same way.
  16. We also used the ACRP to provide opportunities through digitalisation and transformation to meet future challenges.

    a) Over 1,500 digitalisation projects were supported under the ACRP through the Digitalisation Fund, including the Digital Presentation Grant (DPG). This allowed the sector to obtain invaluable experience innovating in these new frontiers. 

    b) Together with the Capability Development Scheme for the Arts (CDSA), we created close to 15,000 work and training opportunities for the sector in 2020. 
  17. On the back of these gains, we took a longer-term view in 2021 when we understood the pandemic a little more and we understood the sectors a little better. We wanted to look beyond the pandemic, and position the sector for a strong recovery post-COVID and in the mid to longer term. a) With the second tranche of the ACRP, we supported transformation efforts that encouraged even greater collaboration within the sector to explore opportunities, share best practices, and come together to tackle common issues.b) More than 100 transformation projects by over 190 organisations were supported by the Organisation Transformation Grant (OTG).c) Self-employed persons and organisations also came together to develop projects supported by the SEP Grant (SEPG), creating over 5,000 work and training opportunities for our SEPs. 
  18. We will fully utilise the $75 million for the ACRP by the end of this Financial Year. To build on the gains that we have made, we will provide an additional $12 million in FY2022 in continued support of our arts and culture practitioners. 

    a) The VHS will also be extended. Last year, we incorporated the CDSA and DPG into NAC and NHB’s ongoing grants, and this year we will also incorporate the OTG and the SEPG. 
  19. Ms Janet Ang asked how we will continue to provide vibrant arts and culture spaces, and about our plans to co-create new models for the sector. Ms Tin Pei Ling, Mr Darryl David and Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked about our efforts to revitalise the sector. 
  20. Madam, they are right.  We must act proactively to protect and sustain a thriving and innovative arts and culture sector. If arts and culture become unintended casualties of the pandemic, we will lose a sense of who we are as a nation, and what makes us special as a people. 
  21. Therefore, we will work with the community to ensure that the sector remains vibrant, innovative, and more importantly, forward-looking,

    a) And continues to provide good and meaningful jobs;

    b) That the landscape continues to reflect our shared values, our ethos and social mores, inspires and uplifts us; and

    c) Forges a strong sense of national identity. 
  22. Our key focus areas are:

    a) First, Digitalisation as a key enabler for the sector to engage new and existing audiences and complement existing revenue streams. To encourage more widespread digital adoption, we worked closely with stakeholders and tech partners to develop the Arts and Culture Digital Roadmap which was launched in February this year.

    b) Second, enhancing the conditions for our SEPs. Our arts and culture landscape depends heavily on the rich talents of our freelancers. 

    c) They are creative and talented and are a source of spontaneity and innovation. d) We value them and want to help them to continue to thrive and contribute. 

    e) Therefore, we will work with partners to help SEPs build up their skills, improve working conditions, explore new ways for them to create value in the arts sector and also in the wider creative economy.

    f) Third, developing vibrant and inclusive arts and culture spaces to keep up with emerging trends and better meet practitioners’ needs. One example is 45 Armenian Street (45AS).  We have asked leaders in the arts community to help envision the space, and how it can best be operated and managed. 

    g) I thank the Chair of Art Outreach Mae Anderson, Vice Chair of Wild Rice Janice Koh, and co-artistic director of Independent Archive Shaiful Risan, as well as other members of the 45AS Resource Panel for so generously sharing your time your expertise, your experience with us, and also engaging with the wider community, to collaborate with NAC. To ensure that 45AS remains a safe space for artistic experimentation, one that supports the work of young, emerging practitioners, and is always inclusive, multi-disciplinary as an arts space.  
  23. My colleague MOS Low will elaborate further on our focus areas to strengthen the sector. 
  24. Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked for an update on the Cultural Matching Fund (CMF). The CMF was set up in 2013 to encourage cultural philanthropy, to push arts and heritage charities to diversify their income streams via fundraising, with dollar-for-dollar matching of private cash donations to arts and heritage charities.
  25. This enhances the resilience of our arts and heritage charities.
  26. And there has been an encouragingly strong response to this:

    a) Arts and heritage charities received over $300 million in CMF grants, reflecting donations catalysed by the CMF since its inception.

    b) To date, a total of 111 arts and heritage charities applied to CMF at least once. This 111 represents over two-thirds of the total number of arts and heritage charities in Singapore. 

    c) Many charities have also embarked on their own fund-raising for the first time to diversify their revenue streams. 
  27. We want to sustain the momentum of giving and to encourage charities to keep up fundraising efforts and develop stronger relationships and forge relationships with their own eco-system of donors.
  28. There will therefore be a top-up of $150 million into the CMF.

    a) The top-up will encourage cultural philanthropy and enhance the sustainability of the arts and heritage sectors.

    b) The CMF will also complement existing initiatives to provide stronger support to smaller charities to develop their own governance and fundraising capabilities. 
  29. Our cultural heritage plays an important role in growing a strong, confident society by anchoring our unique Singaporean identity, and telling stories that are our own and that define and inspire us as a country.
  30. The Padang, for example, has borne witness to many significant national events. The site is an instantly recognisable, enduring testament to our history as a people and as a country. NHB is working towards the gazetting of the Padang as a National Monument on National Day later this year.
  31. Madam, even as we safeguard our tangible heritage, we will continue to preserve and celebrate our intangible heritage. We were very proud some time ago when our hawker culture was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) list.
  32. We are now looking at a second UNESCO ICH nomination. There are some exciting possibilities. I will not share them here yet. We have sought views on them and will think about them a bit more, think about how else and what are the possible nominations, and will continue to engage our relevant stakeholders, as well as the public, before reaching a decision.
  33. Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked for an update on our long-term vision for the arts and culture sector.
  34. Madam, it is a good question. Even as we work on the here and now, and as members see we have many initiatives for the here and now, we have kept a clear eye on the future.

    a) Since mid-2021, we have been actively engaging stakeholders in the sector to develop a vision for the next Arts and Heritage Plans, and will further engage stakeholders this year. 

    b) The Arts and Heritage Plans 2.0 will continue to build upon the vital role played by the arts and heritage in deepening our national identity. 
  35. Again, MOS Low will give more details on the Arts and Heritage Plans 2.0.  

    Reinvigorating the Sports Sector

  36. Let me now turn to sports.
  37. Mr Darryl David and Ms Cheng Li Hui asked about strategies to bring sports participation back, and Mr Mark Chay asked a series of questions about sports entertainment, and in particular digital content, to promote Singapore’s culture and identity. Ms Cheng in particular spoke with such passion about the national stadium. I think she shows her vintage in naming those players, but I would suggest that we look forward as well. Irfan Fandi, Gabriel Quak, and Jacob Mahler are some names of the future.
  38. We have been supporting the Sport and Fitness industry to enhance their value proposition through digitalisation, to transform the way they present, and in turn the way we consume and experience, activities and sporting content.

    a) The ActiveSG Circle has partnered stakeholders to develop more than 3,000 hours of digital content since 2020, and to date, has accumulated a viewership of 67 million, with 5 million unique visitors. This is very encouraging, and we will continue this effort.  

    b) SportSG also closely supports the sports and fitness industry in expanding their blended digital and physical offerings, including events and competitions, like the Arena Games Triathlon to be held in May this year, which will blend live and virtual reality experiences for a truly immersive experience. 
  39. We have also been nudging digital production and innovation through the Sports Resilience Package (SRP), which was enhanced to a total of $75 million last year.

    a) To date, more than 600 businesses were supported by the SRP. 

    b) The SRP will sustain the momentum of innovation, such as through the Enterprise Innovation and Capabilities Development Grant (InnoGrant), which supports businesses in applying technology and innovative solutions. 
  40. Through these, some sport businesses are fundamentally transforming the way we experience sports.

    a) For example, SportSG’s ‘Blended’ initiative supports businesses through areas such as data analytics and fan engagement, so that they can better develop hybrid experiences which better connect with the audience. 

    b) With ‘Blended’s’ support, 18 hybrid events reached over 90,000 participants. One such event is RIDEnjoySG, an innovative campaign that encourages participants to cycle safely on bike paths and park connectors whilst at the same time enjoying real-world rewards via location-based challenges and augmented reality. 
  41. Madam, 2021 was a thoroughly exciting year for sports, despite the many uncertainties and challenges. We progressively resumed sporting activities and we also hosted several international events.
  42. In 2022, we want to step it up.
  43. Like arts, sports is a social “glue” that brings us together, as we cheer on our athletes fighting hard for Singapore, or as we develop friendships by simply engaging in a game or two on the field or on the court.
  44. We will commit $20M to our Bring Sport Back program in 2022. This is designed to reinvigorate Singapore sports, bring people back to play and enjoy sports together, and, through sports, reconnect with one another.
  45. Bring Sport Back will focus on three key elements:

    a) First, we will safely reintroduce mass participation events for all, through more community events and sports festivals. To facilitate this, SportSG will be opening a grant call to fund mass participation events at up to $50,000 per award under the Blended Events Grant – Bring Sport Back edition.  

    b) Second, we will ramp up community participation in sports through enhanced programming and more group activities. 

    i. Currently, more than 170 facilities have already resumed 5 against 5 team sports. We are working on resuming larger team sports capacities, across more facilities around Singapore, bringing it back to full capacity in several phases.

    ii. We will roll out more leagues and competitions for people of all ages under the ActiveSG umbrella. These include the ActiveSG Cup launch, and ActiveSG Leagues for Athletics, Badminton and Canoeing. 

    iii. ActiveSG Academies and Clubs will ramp up capacity of high-quality programmes, to strengthen sport development, social integration, health & wellness, and inculcate strong values of resilience and determination, values that one can get through sport participation. They will also offer additional pathways for youth athlete development at the elite level. 
    iv. We have also picked up growing interest in pickleball, I think some members would be familiar with that sport.  An increasingly popular sport particularly amongst our seniors, we will continue to keep our ears to the ground and will in this case, of Pickleball, increase the frequency of this and any other popular activities that will bring people back to sports. 

    c) Third, we will optimise facilities and spaces to encourage people to return and play together. These spaces will be community-driven, serving the unique needs of our different neighbourhoods. These include repurposing spaces for a range of sports, and converting underused spaces into outdoor gyms. 
  46. We hope that these measures will encourage Singaporeans to resume sporting and wellness activities safely.

    Section 2: Social compact is grounded in values that unite and include all of us (“Sense of Us”)

  47. Madam, as we raise our ambitions in sports, we also want to emphasise the values that unite and promote an inclusive “Sense of Us”, who we are as fellow Singaporeans.
  48. One of the values Singaporeans hold dear is inclusivity. We must build a society where everyone, regardless of their own circumstances in life, can take part and can flourish.
  49. I appreciate very much Ms Cheng Li Hui’s and Mr Darryl David’s questions on inclusive sports.
  50. There are several aspects to this, for which we have a few broad initiatives.

    a) First, SportSG will introduce the Para Sport Academy, under ActiveSG’s Academies and Clubs, to create more opportunities for Persons with Disabilities to pursue their sporting ambition at the competitive level. 

    b) I spoke during my Parliamentary Motion last year about the unique ability of sports to enhance an individual’s own self-confidence, and to transform community attitudes towards a person with disabilities. 

    c) Sports is one arena where we can, and we indeed we should, level everyone up. Through sports, we can empower persons with disabilities in deeply profound ways to help them realise their full potential and raise their visibility and prominence in society. 

    d) For many para-athletes, their stories attest to the value of sports in Singapore, playing a pivotal part in building an inclusive society. The Para Sport Academy will bring us one step closer, one step further along this journey, ensuring our para-athletes have an equal platform and as much opportunity as any other, to scale the pinnacle of sporting excellence. 
  51. Second, sports can uplift and motivate. In that spirit, SportCares will be collaborating with ComLink to offer programmes to vulnerable youths, families, and seniors. 

    a) SportCares will also roll out a mentoring programme, and will also offer bursaries, scholarships and internships for youths from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

    b) Both these initiatives will provide enhanced opportunities for those with disabilities or from less privileged backgrounds to achieve their hopes and dreams, and use sports to uplift themselves.
  52. My colleague, Parl Sec Eric, will share more details on these two initiatives, as well as other sports developments to look forward to. 
  53. As Ms Joan Pereira said, this year marks the 20th anniversary of our Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs).
  54. Many members in fact know that IRCCs have been instrumental in shaping our interfaith harmony over the years. Their mission to strengthen our social cohesion remains as important today as it was 20 years ago when we first set it up.

    a) IRCC was first formed in 2002, at a time when the world was reeling in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and Singapore had also just uncovered the Jemaah Islamiyah plot to attack embassies on our soil.

    b) We now have IRCCs in every constituency, with over 1500 members comprising key leaders from various religious organisations, grassroots, community leaders, and other stakeholders. 
  55. The IRCCs have over the years been a critical bridge between the different community groups, building bridges, trust and friendships, and just doing day-to-day things so that the lived experience enhances those bonds.

    a) On average, the IRCCs organise over 250 activities each year, including dialogues on different faiths, practices, and festivals, and joint collaborations to support each other in times of need. We agree with Ms Pereira that we should do more to open up the common spaces, to listen and learn about other faiths, other religions, other practices, without prejudice.

    b) The IRCCs also act as a conduit between the government and community by highlighting issues emerging on the ground, providing insights and ideas.
  56. Mr Fahmi Bin Aliman asked how we plan to step up social cohesion efforts. Ms Joan Pereira and Ms Cheng Li Hui asked how we plan to keep IRCCs effective and relevant and promote a more inclusive nation.
  57. Madam, as a basic requirement, we must ensure that our IRCCs continue to foster mutual trust on the ground. They are bridges and connectors on the ground across communities. At the same time, we are also operating and very quickly moving into a rapidly changing landscape. We will therefore have to refresh our IRCCs so that they stand ready to respond to future challenges, such as evolving societal attitudes, increasing fault lines, and the pervasive impact of social media on race and religious relations like some members have highlighted earlier.
  58. We must also anticipate the challenges in the next bound.
  59. To this end, we have formed a Workgroup to review how we can refresh our IRCCs, to continue strengthening our racial and religious harmony.
  60. The Workgroup comprises members who are experienced IRCC leaders, representatives from religious organisations, civil society leaders and groups and community partners, as well as youth leaders who play an integral and instrumental part in shaping what we want to be doing in the future to promote racial and religious harmony.
  61. Over the next few months, the workgroup will consult widely with a range of community stakeholders, identify the strengths and challenges faced by the IRCCs, look at some of the issues, look at how we can tackle them and put forward their recommendations.
  62. I look forward to the Workgroup presenting its recommendations later this year and I will share them with Members of this house.

    Section 3: We can build on this “Sense of Us” through mutual understanding, care and partnerships, to shape the future we want to see

  63. Next, Madam, Ms Joan Pereira asked how we can continue to strengthen community life at the neighbourhood level and Ms Cheng Li Hui asked how we can increase care and cohesiveness in Singapore.
  64. At the heart of our communities and neighbourhoods are the Residents Committees (RC) and Residents’ Networks (RNs) centres. The way to increase care, cohesiveness, bonds on the ground, is not necessarily to come up with special projects or special events to bring people together, but to share as part of our daily lived experiences. When you step out of your home, when you go down to the common areas in the community, how can we foster that bond.
  65. Last October, I had announced that five centres would pilot the Smart RC/RN concept, where these centres would be more accessible and better equipped, for example with smart access control systems so residents can enter them at the times of their choice. 

    a) The pilot centres allowed for enhanced use, fostered a greater sense of coming together and community and belonging for the neighbourhoods involved. We will progressively roll the pilot out across more RC centres in the second half of 2022 to take advantage of some of the gains we have seen from the pilot.
  66. 66. Mr Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman and Ms Cheng Li Hui asked how MCCY plans to make volunteerism and care a greater part of our lives. To do so, the SG Cares movement and PA, will generate multiple pathways for volunteerism so that everyone can play a part for the common good. 
  67. There are several initiatives, and I will just highlight one that the PA is studying and will implement shortly. That is to broaden opportunities for volunteerism on the ground where as far as possible, we can do it on a fluid, informal, and flexible basis. Let me explain that.

    a) First, working with the community to support volunteers, formal and informal, who wish to work on specific causes.  We will support volunteers in causes that they care about.

    b) Second, we want to partner with already existing networks on the ground to encourage community involvement and reach out to potential networks of volunteers; and 

    c) Third, supporting community volunteers in their projects through grants, cross-sharing volunteering opportunities and providing resources together with other agencies.
  68. The PA’s efforts also complement ongoing SG Cares’ efforts to expand the base of volunteers through working with community partners.
  69. Madam, let me now touch on the prevalence of neighbourly disputes.
  70. Ms Tin Pei Ling, Mr Derrick Goh, Mr Gerald Giam, Mr Patrick Tay, and Mr Gan Thiam Poh all asked about our processes to deal with such disputes and how we can enhance the use of mediation.
  71. Members will be aware that in 2014, the Community Dispute Management Framework (CDMF) was introduced. The framework was aimed at facilitating effective resolution of common neighbourly disputes, to seek to foster a more harmonious living environment.
  72. An inter-agency workgroup has been reviewing this Framework. Mr Giam asked who was involved. MinLaw, MCCY, MND, and MHA are involved in this review. As I mentioned in my MinLaw COS speech, our agencies are exploring a range of enhancements to the Framework. These cover both:

    a) Upstream measures to promote pro-social norms; and 

    b) Downstream measures to enhance our response to disputes, addressing  situations where disputes would benefit from mediation, and possibly dispute resolution at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT).
  73. Madam, we recognise that some disagreements, such as neighbour-generated nuisances, noise nuisances and local and neighbourly disamenities, may not always meet the threshold for intervention by Government agencies and oftentimes they are also best suited for mediation, which provides not just a quick, friendly, informal process to deal with, but also one which as far as possible preserves the existing relationship between the two neighbours. One that is amicable and conciliatory in nature.
  74. However, at present, as some members have pointed out, the mediation take-up rate remains low, despite this being a proven, effective means to resolve disputes. We are therefore considering three broad areas of enhancements to better manage such disagreements.
  75. First, we will collaborate with residents to strengthen the spirit of neighbourliness and graciousness through shared norms.

    a) In her MND COS speech, my colleague SMS Sim Ann spoke about forming a Community Advisory Panel (CAP) on Neighbourhood Noise. 

    b) This Panel will build consensus through community norms that can be a useful guide for determining acceptable behaviours among neighbours, and serve as a useful reference point for agencies in advising residents to be considerate neighbours. 
  76. Second, we are considering ways to improve our dispute resolution mechanisms: both in mediation and the CDRT. For mediation, we intend to increase the take-up rate for mediation, both formal and informal. The Community Mediation Centre (CMC) has a high settlement rate, I mentioned this previously and I’ll mention this again. For every 10 cases that goes to CMC, 8.8 of them are resolved. That is a very high number. This shows that when parties avail themselves of this process, formal mediation is very effective and should be the preferred mechanism for resolving neighbourly tensions. We are looking into:

    a) Increasing awareness on the benefits of mediation. The CMC has been using social media to promote its services, and has also been reaching out to brief frontline officers to promote the benefits of mediation and the referral process. 

    b) We are exploring more varied modes of mediation to increase accessibility, for example, doing online, virtual mediation.

    c) Additionally, we are studying the feasibility of mandating mediation in appropriate circumstances, and in those cases, requiring disputing neighbours to undergo mediation before filing a claim with the CDRT. This is so neighbours may resolve differences amicably as far as possible, without first going through the CDRT process, which is adjudicatory, and often zero-sum in nature.

    d) We are also considering possible consequences for parties who fail to attend mediation and yet want to pursue a claim at the CDRT. Mr Giam suggested we allow adverse inferences to be drawn and we will consider that. We will also consider the other suggestions by Mr Giam, which were good suggestions, on how to effectively promote mediation in such situations.

    e) We are also studying possible mechanisms for a CMC settlement agreement to be registered as an order of court. This will make it easier for the CMC to have its settlement agreements enforced as an order of court.
  77. Madam, beyond these, Grassroots and other community leaders also currently play an important role in preserving positive neighbour relations, and often partner frontline agencies in resolving such disputes. We will work on programs to better equip community leaders with the skills to informally mediate between residents, and very often, they are also a neighbour themselves and can be the best first responder to the situation to understand the context, the lay of the land, and quite possibly be the respected person that both neighbours can look up to. These are the ingredients to a successful mediation.
  78. Mr Patrick Tay asked about the CDRT’s caseload. In the past 5 years, 721 claims have been filed with CDRT, with 138 cases ordered to undergo mediation at CMC or CDRC, and 656 cases being disposed of by the CDRT.
  79. We are studying process changes to alleviate the difficulties which some parties face in navigating the CDRT process, and to ensure greater effectiveness of the CDRT amongst the parties involved. These changes could include:

    a) Empowering the CDRT to provide expedited relief, akin to an interim injunction, in egregious cases; and

    b) Introducing measures to deter non-compliance with CDRT orders more effectively.

    c) In cases where respondents breach the orders granted by CDRT, claimants have gone on to apply for Special Directions, Compliance Bonds, and Exclusion Orders from CDRT.
  80. Mr Gerald Giam raised a point on uploading of evidence:

    a) The current requirement for audio and video recordings, which often are the most direct way in which you can substantiate your position to the CDRT, these are usually submitted using CD or DVD, due to the need to preserve data integrity and security.

    b) Nonetheless, the courts are continually reviewing their processes and will take into account Mr Giam’s point and assess the viability of alternatives to submit evidence in Court.c) In the meantime, court users who require assistance to submit audio or video recordings to the CDRT may approach the CDRT Registry for assistance. 
  81. Third, and finally, we are looking to enhance processes and resources for a targeted response that can better assess nature and scope of a complaint and attend to them quickly. One possibility could be a team of ground responders empowered to collect and share evidence or reports with the CDRT, to alleviate the evidential burden for parties involved. More details will be announced as we continue with this review and the findings are firmed up.
  82. Sir, the various initiatives I have spoken today about signals our commitment to ensure we emerge from this pandemic not just stronger but more cohesive, more innovative society.
  83. Let me round up my response by returning to Sports and our Sportsmen and Sportswomen, all of whom who exemplify the values and qualities we all aspire to as a people. Mr Darryl David asked for an update on Team SG’s preparations for the major games in 2022.
  84. Let me just recap 2021. We had a successful 2021.

    a) Last year, all of us cheered our Olympians and Paralympians as they flew the Singapore flag high and proud in Tokyo.

    b) We celebrated the achievements of Loh Kean Yew and Aloysius Yapp who reached the pinnacles of their respective sports last year in Badminton and in Cue Sports.

    c) Shayna Ng and Yip Pin Xiu, names which I’m sure all of you recognise, continued to inspire us through world class performances in Bowling and Swimming.

    d) Our youth athletes did extremely well too.

    i. Colin Soon won four Gold medals at the Asian Youth Para Games for Swimming;
    ii. Maximilian Maeder won the Under-19 World Championships for Kitefoiling; and
    iii. Izaac Quek who is competing at the WTT Singapore Smash, won the Under-15 Singles title for Table Tennis. 
  85. We will have a busy sporting calendar in 2022: 

    a) Hanoi SEA Games in May, 

    b) the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and August, and 

    c) the Hangzhou Asian Games and Para Games in September and October respectively. 
  86. I am confident that our TeamSG athletes will continue to fly our flag high, and inspire us with their resilience, fortitude and solidarity, the very same qualities that will enable Singapore to progress and develop on multiple fronts.
  87. I have spoken at length in Parliament earlier this year and last year on the Government’s support for High Performance Sport and our TeamSG athletes.  We will continue to do so and enable each of our athletes to put their best foot forward in these competitions.
  88. We encourage all to support our Team Singapore athletes!


  89. Madam Chairperson, our transition out of the pandemic will not be without bumps and hurdles. Much of the impact that COVID-19 has on the sectors we care for is intangible and often, latent, they are hidden. We have to ensure that we do not suffer a deficit in social resilience in our society even as we strive to protect lives and livelihoods in this pandemic.
  90. Madam, sports, culture and heritage hold a mirror to our society.

    a) They show us who we are, how far we have come, and what we cherish, value and aspire to. 

    b) Resilience in defeat, and grace in victory. 

    c) These are qualities that are like a microcosm of our society. As our athletes and artists succeed, so does our nation. 

    d) More importantly, in sport, art, culture and heritage, we see that our diversity in race, colour, and creed, is in fact our strength. These distinctions don’t divide us; they enable us; they make us stronger.  Whether it is on the playing field, or under the stage lights, our athletes and artists show us that what matters is what we bring to the table – our unique gifts, our talents, our experiences – and our shared dreams.  

    e) The qualities we see on the stage or on the pitch – grace under pressure, commitment to excellence, dedication to one another, to our teammates – are the very same ones we hold dear in society, that inspire in us pride, unity and courage and the ability to dream even bigger together. 

    f) They speak to the heart of Singapore.
  91. On that note, Madam, MCCY will ensure our arts, heritage and sports sectors will emerge from the pandemic stronger, better, faster, and more vibrant, innovative and resilient.
  92. They will continue to inspire, unite, and move us, as we continue to strengthen the Heart of Singapore, towards an even more caring, gracious and truly inclusive society.
  93. Thank you, Madam.




Last updated on 11 March 2022